Thanks Bob

30th January 2006. 10:41.

A desk on a floor in Ashdown House, Victoria that closely resembles a call centre.

So, here we are then. I’ve decided to start a blog. Why am I starting a blog when I should be working and trying to crack the impenetrable issues around the inclusion of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme? Well, I’ve been feeling a certain malaise that I believe afflicts all twenty-somethings of my generation. A feeling that despite the affluence, stability and material possessions, something is not quite right.

I work in a job that people would die for, tackling one of the biggest challenges to mankind. I’m paid well and live in a nice flat in the heart of Balham. I have a beautiful girlfriend who understands me and doesn’t nag. I have a wonderful family who support and inspire me. I drive a nice car, have at least one week’s holiday a year, usually in an exotic destination. I’m fit and healthy, despite my regular socialising. But something’s not quite right in my soul.

I’m bored of the routine and the feeling that I’m somehow trapped in a giant maze, running around scrabbling towards some ill-defined goal. Maybe it’s just what happens when you hit the stage of life between formal education, with all its goals and pathways, and parenthood with its responsibility and selflessness, but I feel that life should be about more than the day-to-day grind, the relentless pursuit of a career (I’ve never understood why we call it that, is it because we spend most of it careering around?).

So, anyway, I guess this is all a long-winded way (years of civil service training is hard to overcome) of saying that I’ve decided to take control of my life and do something different.

Ever since I first strapped on a piece of wood to my feet and slid in a most ungainly manner down the slightest of… actually that’s a lie. I didn’t really enjoy snowboarding when I first tried it. Sure it was good fun, something a bit different, but I lived in fear of another face-plant or coxyx shattering impact. It wasn’t really until my second week of boarding, when it suddenly came together and I felt in flow that I caught the bug. The combination of mountains, snow and a basic form of transport powered only be natural forces was quite hypnotic. I love the almost meditative qualities of a focussed run, the feel of crisp snow beneath your feet, the rush of air past your freezing ears and the rosy glow that the biting wind leaves on your cheeks. So for one week a year (sometimes more), I’ve found my way out and a way to escape the drudgery of city life.

But one week has never seemed enough, just as I begin to feel in tune with it, it’s whipped away and replaced with an early morning, hungover crawl to the airport, sweating alcohol in a tin can that lands in the inevitably grey London skies. So I’ve decided to do a season, not just any old season mind you. I need a bit of structure and a way to improve, so I’ve opted to train as a snowboard instructor, an ideal way to combine my love of snowboarding with my love of sharing skills with other people. Oh, and it’s in New Zealand (Wanaka to be precise), for 3 months.

What am I hoping to get out of it? Space. Time. Freedom to think about what actually matters to me, about how I’d like to be remembered and about what the hell to do with myself and the precious gift of life. Challenge, a change, a sense of liberation and a feeling that I can take control of my life, that it’s not just about stepping over others in a desperate bid for recognition and promotion.

It’s not been an easy decision and it won’t be an easy 3 months. I’m moving to the total opposite side of the world from the love of my life, away from my friends, family and social circle. I’m leaving a great job. And I’m terrified, that I’m not good enough, that I’m not enough of an extreme thrill seeker, that I’ll hurt myself, that I won’t enjoy it. But it’s something I feel like I need to do. If it goes wrong, I’ll handle it somehow – that’s partly why I want to do it, it feels like a risk, a leap of faith (OK, it’s only 3 months in another country, but it’s a psychological thing). I keep thinking about looking back on this and how I want to view this point in my life. And one thing keeps running through my head, the last stanza in my favourite poem:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by.
And that has made all the difference.”

Thanks Bob, that’ll keep me going.